Oscar Morel, the man who gunned down an Imam Maulana Alauddin Akonjee, 55, and his assistant, Thara Uddin, 64, on August 13, 2016, was sentenced to life without parole.
According to a New York Post report, the men had just left form prayers from the Al-furqan Jame Masjid Mosque in Queens around 2 p.m., when Morel shot them in the head from behind with a .38-caliber revolver.
“This was not a fight. This was not a dispute. There was no argument. This was not a robbery or robbery offense. You immediately start shooting as you came upon these two men walking down the street. It was a cold-blooded assassination. It wasn’t a random assassination. You targeted these two men. You planned this. You prepared this. You did not act nervous. You were calm. You acted in an everyday manner,” Judge Gregory Lasak said.
Morel seems to have no motive which led the Imam’s son to question him.
“The question that has come from all corners of the world is why, Oscar? We asked you, why did you do this terrible thing? If you don’t answer as to why you should know there is coming another judgment day, one you will not be able to skip over. You will have to answer,” Saif Akonjee said in the proceedings.
However, Morel says he is innocent and claims that he “never owned a gun.”
“There’s no proof that he’s the shooter. There’s proof he has the gun that the shooter used, if you want to accept that, that it wasn’t planted. But that doesn’t mean he’s the shooter. It could mean he’s hiding it for the shooter,” said Michael Jay Schwed, Morel’s court-appointed lawyer, however the gun was found in Morel’s apartment, according to the New York Times.
Police told the New York Times that they found a blue bag containing a .38-caliber revolver, 58 bullets and a T-shirt wrapped around five spent shell casings, which ballistics tests matched to the gun and the two bullets taken from the victims’ bodies, in a hole behind Morel’s kitchen.
Morel did not testify during his trial.